Cambodian team learns secret to Korea’s success

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Cambodian team learns secret to Korea’s success

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Eleven high-ranking government officials from Cambodia watch a 3-D TV during their visit to the Electronics and Telecommunication Research Institute located in the Daedeok Innopolis in Daejeon. The officials came to Korea to participate in a seven-day program, which aimed to share Korea’s experience in nurturing science and industrial technologies, from Oct. 14-20. By Park Sang-moon


DAEJEON - “How economically and environmentally advantageous is it to use bio-crude oil instead of generally used heavy fuel?” asked Bory Seng, a Cambodian official at Phnom Penh’s communications technology department. Seng was standing in front of a pyrolysis reactor that produces bio-crude oil from burning wood with thermal decomposition technology developed by the Korea Institute of Machinery & Materials in Daejeon.

“The source of the eco-friendly oil is wood and agricultural waste, the leftover organic material from rice harvest. After we burn it and apply a number of procedures inside this gigantic reactor, pollution-free combustible oil is produced. Thus it will bring both environmental and economic benefits when fully operational for commercial use,” answered Choi Yeon-seok, principal researcher at the Environmental and Energy Systems Research Division of KIMM.

When Choi said automobiles can also be run by the wood-sourced oil following additional production steps, a gasp of surprise was heard from the 11-member crowd.

“All they need to produce bio-crude oil in Cambodia with our technology is a factory to produce the bio- energy and an electricity supply to power the plant. And of course, the timber, which is abundant there,” said Choi of KIMM.

Seng was one of 11 high-ranking Cambodian government officials participating in a seven-day program hosted by the Korea Institute of S&T Evaluation and Planning, which was held from Oct. 14-20. The program aimed to offer the 11 officials firsthand insight into Korea’s advanced scientific and industrial technologies, which were first driven by the central government dating back to the early 1970’s.

“As Daedeok Innopolis is a symbol of Korea’s rapid achievement in science, we invited the 11 officials here to share our experiences,” said Kang Jin-won, associate researcher at Kistep. “Also, the idea that Korea has arisen to today’s prosperity from dire poverty in the 1960s thanks to robust state support and planning has offered Cambodian officials motivation and confidence that they could aim for similar achievements.”

During their trip to Daejeon’s Daedeok Innopolis, formerly known as Daedeok Science Town and founded by the state in 1973 for its long-term plan to boost the nation’s R&D capabilities as well as scientific innovations, the 11 officials were deeply interested in technology and mechanisms used in operations for generating renewable energy, developed by the country’s only state-sponsored machinery institute.

“As Cambodia is still heavily dependent on agriculture, we produce a lot of waste from farming,” said Phol Norith, deputy director of planning and development at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia. “This kind of technology [that uses agricultural waste and lumber to produce pollution-free bio-crude oil] will be hugely beneficial to us.”

Of the many trips during the week-long program, many officials picked a trip to Samsung Electronics’ exhibition center in Suwon, Gyeonggi, as the most memorable experience. “It was very interesting to see how handset products that rival Apple’s iPhone are being produced,” said Sok Chea, chief official at the industry department of industrial techniques.

“The trip to the Daedeok town has given us a lesson to learn how Korea successfully pulled off commercialization of their new technologies that were both brought on by the state as well as private companies like Samsung.”

High-ranking government officials of Cambodia, a Southeastern Asian agricultural state that emerged from the genocidal rule of the infamous Khmer Rouge and is home to the world’s largest Hindu temple complex Angkor Wat, has set its sights on Korea’s development model.

“Cambodia envisions its economic growth driven by the state just as Korea has successfully demonstrated,” said Norith.

The 11 government officials’ strong desire to follow the footsteps of Korea’s fast growth in science capabilities engineered by state planning was reflected in a flurry of questions they ask to officials at Daedeok Innopolis during the training program offered by the science cluster.

“My ministry submitted applications for three students to receive training at Daedeok Innopolis last year,” said Chea of the industrial techniques department. “But I heard no reply from the center. I am planning to request the training opportunity once again this year.”

During their visit to the exhibition of technology developed by the Electronics and Telecommunication Research Institute at the science cluster, many marveled at the recently unveiled translation program GenieTalk, which can automatically translate a large amount of conversations as it can process over 270,000 Korean words and 65,000 English worlds. The program also boasts a higher accuracy level than that of Google Translator, a front-runner in the field.

“It is surprising to see how this one program can single-handedly translate two languages in real time,” said Rady Roeun, official at the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training. “This is the kind of technology we need to better ensure economic growth in Cambodia.”

“Cambodia sees the footsteps of Korea as a perfect model to follow for economic development that has led to a higher standard of living here,” said Phol.

By Kang Jin-kyu [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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